Asus’ Eee PC 4G sub-notebook

We spend a lot of our time here at TR evaluating cutting-edge hardware, but not because we’re particularly drawn to extremely expensive components. Rather, it’s the fact that new technologies tend to debut at the high end before trickling downstream to more affordable mid-range parts. We also spend a great deal of time playing with those mid-range products, combing through their ranks in search for that perfect intersection of price and performance—the glorious sweet spot.

It’s a little odd, then, to be sitting in front of Asus’ Eee PC sub-notebook. With a Celeron ULV processor chugging along at 630MHz, GMA 900 integrated graphics powering a 800×480 display, 512MB of RAM, and just 4GB of internal storage capacity, the Eee PC’s specs are hardly awe-inspiring. In fact, this may be the first system we’ve ever reviewed that’s slower than Jessica Simpson.

And unlike Jessica, the Eee PC isn’t a knockout, either. So at first blush, it’s a little hard to see what all the fuss is about. Sure, the system may be a fine option for developing nations and Ugandan schools, but its appeal for enthusiasts isn’t as obvious.

I assure you, however, that it’s there. After a few weeks of quality time with the Eee PC, I’m absolutely sold on the concept and pretty enamored with Asus’ implementation. Keep reading to see why.

Size really does matter

Asus cops Apple’s all-white aesthetic for most Eee PC models, which at least in my mind, makes the system look like it belongs in a hospital or dental clinic. Years ago, PCs were ripped for being boring and beige, and this is supposed to be progress? Fortunately, the Eee PC can also be had in black. White models with pastel green, blue, and pink top panels are available, as well.

More important than the Eee PC’s visual flair is the device’s diminutive size. Measuring just 225mm wide, 165mm deep, and up to 35mm thick (8.9″ x 6.5″ x 1.4″ if you prefer multiples of the king’s forearm), the Eee PC very much resides in sub-notebook territory. Seriously, it’s tiny.

When closed, the Eee PC’s footprint is comparable to that of two CDs, which makes it easy to shove into a bag, purse, or even some larger jacket pockets. Since the system tips the scales at just 920 grams (barely more than 2lbs), it’s not a chore to lug around, either.

Opened up, the Eee PC looks even smaller. Granted, my years-old 14″ laptop is hardly a sub-notebook, but it absolutely dwarfs the Eee PC. The difference in size is worth more than just bragging rights and portability, too. When crammed into economy class in an airline, there’s rarely enough room to even open my laptop, let alone to get a decent angle to view the screen straight on. And that’s before the idiot in front of me decides to recline his seat without warning. This isn’t a problem with the Eee PC, whose modest proportions easily squeeze into tight spaces.

A visual tour

Around the left side of the Eee PC, we find a single USB port and a 10/100 Ethernet jack powered by an Atheros L2 Fast Ethernet controller. Gigabit Ethernet isn’t in the cards, unfortunately, and neither is a modem, despite the presence of a phone jack right next to the networking port. The Eee PC does offer 802.11g Wi-Fi via an Atheros AR5007EG adapter, whose range is at least as good as the wireless module in my full-sized laptop.

From the left, we can also see the Eee PC’s headphone and microphone jacks. HD audio is provided through a Realtek ALC6628 codec, and as one might expect from a budget laptop, playback quality doesn’t blow your socks off. Sound quality is adequate, though—a theme that carries throughout the Eee PC.

Over on the right-hand side of the system, the Eee PC serves up an additional two USB ports and a standard VGA output. Asus also throws in an MMC/SD memory card reader, making it easy to bolster the device’s 4GB solid-state hard drive with additional storage capacity. This expansion capability is particularly useful given the Eee PC’s lack of an optical drive.

Flipping the Eee PC over reveals its four-cell lithium-ion battery, which sits flush with the system and delivers 5,200 mAh of power. According to Asus, that’s good for three and a half hours of battery life.

Asus actually offers two different batteries across its various Eee PC models. 4G and upcoming 8G models are equipped with the same 5,200 mAh battery, while less expensive 2G and 4G Surf models come with a 4,400 mAh battery. Battery life for the latter is rated at 2.75 hours.

The most interesting element to the Eee PC’s underbelly is a plastic door that affords users access to the system’s SO-DIMM slot and a PCI Express Mini Card connector. Eee PC 4G models are equipped with 512MB of DDR2-667 memory out of the box, but it’s possible to swap in a 1GB or even 2GB memory module. When the Eee PC was first released, such a memory upgrade would have voided the device’s warranty. However, Asus has since backed away from that position, allowing users to upgrade their systems’ memory at will. It’s worth noting, however, that the Eee PC’s Linux-based operating system will apparently only see 1GB of system memory, even if a 2GB DIMM is installed.

Upgrading the Eee PC’s memory is no more difficult than doing so with a standard notebook. Swapping modules takes a couple of minutes at most, and with the current market’s ridiculously low prices, I was able to toss in a 1GB Corsair Value Select SO-DIMM for just $15.

The Eee PC’s screen pivots on a beefy hinge that feels quite a bit more solid than I had expected from a budget sub-notebook. In fact, the entire system feels surprisingly sturdy, with little flex in the chassis even when the Eee PC is held from only one corner. I can’t speak to how the Eee PC will wear over time, but at least out of the box, build quality appears to be quite good.

When open, the Eee PC looks very much like a normal laptop. Without other items in the shot above to provide reference for scale, you might even mistake it for a full-size model. Unfortunately, my camera isn’t particularly adept at dealing with this much whiteness, which is why the screen looks a little off in the picture above.

Zooming in on the screen reveals a 7″ panel with an 800×480 resolution. That’s not a lot of screen area to work with, certainly far fewer pixels than I’m used to having at my disposal, but the display itself is surprisingly bright—as good as my 14″ Dell, in fact. Driving the screen is a Graphics Media Accelerator 900 housed in an Intel 910GML chipset. Don’t expect much in the way of pixel-pushing horsepower; this system isn’t built for performance, let alone gaming.

It is built to do a little bit of everything, though, which is why you’ll find a 0.3 megapixel webcam nestled along the top edge of the screen. Capture quality is adequate for video chat and easily better than some YouTube feeds, which is about what we’d expect from an integrated webcam with so few megapixels

On either side of the screen, you’ll find the Eee PC’s integrated speakers. Like most speakers on laptops of this size, sound quality isn’t particularly good. What’s more annoying, however, is that the speakers create a border around the screen that’s about an inch and a half thick. This border makes the screen feel more cramped than it actually is, as if the speakers were robbing you of screen real estate.

Sadly, there’s really no solution to the thick screen border. Using a larger screen would increase the cost of the Eee PC, and shrinking the border would require shrinking the device as a whole. That actually seems like a decent idea until you look at the Eee PC’s keyboard, which is quite small. Asus has managed to squeeze in all the important keys, but the keys themselves are much smaller than on a standard keyboard.

To give you an idea of just how small the keys are, here’s how a Canadian quarter (which is the same size as a US quarter) compares.

For my clumsy Neanderthal hands and their thick, stubby fingers, the Eee PC’s keyboard feels more than just a little cramped. It’s not unusable, mind you, and I’d far rather use a cramped normal keyboard than the even-smaller keyboards found on some Internet appliances. However, it takes careful concentration and a little practice to get up to any kind of speed. And even after weeks of practice, I still end up hitting the Enter key instead of the apostrophe about 50% of the time.

Interestingly, a friend of mine who isn’t the most proficient typist tried the keyboard and had no problems adapting. If you just hunt and peck, adjusting the smaller keys should be much easier than if you’re used to touch typing at 100 words per minute.

Power comes to the Eee PC via what is quite possibly the smallest plug I’ve ever seen bundled with a laptop. This isn’t so much a power brick as, perhaps, a power stone. Heck, it doesn’t even have a ground line. Don’t think Asus is skimping, though; the cable attached to the power plug is a whopping 10 feet in length.

The Eee PC can get away with such a modest power plug because it really doesn’t have much in the way of power-hungry components under the hood. Processing duties are handled by an “Ultra Low Voltage” Intel Celeron M 353 with a TDP of just 5W. However, that TDP refers to the chip’s power consumption at its normal 900MHz core clock speed. The Eee PC runs the chip at just 630MHz using a 70MHz front-side bus instead of the standard 100MHz, which should drop processor power consumption even further.

In addition to the power cable, Asus bundles the Eee PC with a neoprene carrying case that has an unmistakable new wetsuit smell. The case isn’t particularly fancy, but it’s nice to have one included that fits the Eee PC’s diminutive dimensions. This form factor hasn’t yet spawned a wealth of aftermarket cases.

Linux under the hood

Likely due to a combination of the Eee PC’s budget price tag and modest hardware, the system comes pre-loaded with a version of the Xandros Linux distribution. This OS boots cold in just 28 seconds and comes back to life from standby in only eight seconds, making it quicker than my own considerably more powerful desktop.

The OS includes a decent range of applications, making the Eee PC ready for just about everything right out of the box. By default, the Internet tab loads up first, giving users quick access to a Firefox web browser, shortcuts to various web mail sites, instant messenging, a Skype client, and even a direct link to Wikipedia. Here we also find the Eee PC’s Wi-Fi network browser, which had no problems detecting and connecting to several different wireless networks I tried.

When it’s time to work, the Eee PC serves up an appropriately-named tab that houses a PDF reader, file manager, email client, and even a dictionary. More importantly, it also includes OpenOffice’s Writer, Calc, and Impress applications for documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, respectively.

Neatly illustrating Asus’ desire to have the Eee PC find its way into the hands of students, the OS includes a Learn tab with a periodic table, math and language apps, and a rudimentary image creation tool. Interestingly, Wikipedia is filed under the Internet tab rather than this one.

Here’s the Play tab, which includes a selection of basic games, webcam and recording apps, and the Eee PC’s media player. The games aren’t particularly interesting, but you’ll no doubt end up using the media player, which had no trouble playing back MP3s or DivX-encoded movies. Oddly, though, it doesn’t seem to like playing movies shared over network drives.

If you want to do a little fiddling, the Settings tab is roughly equivalent to Windows’ Control Panel. There’s a little of everything here, including and Add/Remove Software option that will automatically grab software and BIOS updates from the Internet. The automatic BIOS updating feature is particularly slick, definitely a good idea for a system with mainstream appeal.

Here are few screenshots of some of the Eee PC’s bundled applications:

TR loaded up in Firefox

BIOS updates with the click of a button

Eee PC file management should be comfortable for anyone used to Windows Explorer

OpenOffice Writer stepping in for Word…

With Calc handling Excel duties

OS choices abound

The Eee PC’s operating system is plenty functional for most users and particularly well-equipped for students, but it’s not Windows, which limits application compatibility and introduces a bit of a learning curve. Fortunately, there are alternatives. Because the Eee PC runs on standard PC hardware, you can slap on the Linux distribution of your choice. Asus also endorses running Windows XP and provides all the necessary drivers on a support DVD that comes in the box. Enterprising hax0rs have even managed to get Vista and OS X running on the Eee PC, as well.

For most folks, Windows XP will probably be the most logical operating system alternative for the Eee PC. Installation is a breeze if you have access to a USB optical drive, and even if you don’t, Windows can be installed using a couple of USB thumb drives. The process takes a few hours, particularly if you plan on stripping XP’s bloat with something like nLite, but it should be relatively easy thanks to numerous online tutorials that specifically target the Eee PC.

With Windows installed, the Eee PC provides an instant comfort zone for those unfamiliar with Linux or other alternative operating systems. I prefer it to the native OS, not because the pre-installed distro is inadequate in any way, but simply because I’m comfortable with Windows and have a few favorite applications that I’d rather not do without.

Not only has Asus made it easy to install the operating system of your choice on the Eee PC, but they’ve also provided a handy reset button if you change your mind. If you should somehow botch a Windows install or otherwise decide you’d rather run the native Linux OS, restoring the Eee PC to its original form can be done with utilities provided on the support DVD and a USB thumb drive.

Using the Eee PC

Given the Eee PC’s modest hardware specs, performance was my first concern. Applications don’t exactly spring into action with only 630MHz of Celeron power under the hood, and there’s a noticeable pause when you double click on files or apps before they launch. Interestingly, this was the case with both the Eee PC’s native Linux-based OS and with Windows XP.

Coming from the buttery smoothness of a multiprocessor system, you’ll definitely notice the lack of snappiness. Even my mother, who normally works on an Athlon 64 3500+, commented that the Eee PC was a little sluggish. Once applications and files are loaded, however, the Eee PC feels, well, fast enough. As long as you don’t load the system up with too much multitasking, performance is more than acceptable for web browsing, email, instant messaging, and mucking about with office applications.

My second concern with the Eee PC was the size of its keyboard; I have short, thick fingers that don’t deal well with smaller keys. Even my mother, who has thin, lady fingers, found the keyboard too cramped for quick touch typing. She was particularly perturbed by the location of the up arrow key, which is where shift should be. Mom also commented that the keys weren’t overly sensitive—a good thing, in my mind, since it cuts down on accidental keystrokes. But then I like a little clickety-clack in my keyboards.

There’s really no getting around the keyboard size issue, but if you don’t expect to bust out 100 words per minute, it’s perfectly usable. I far prefer a cramped normal keyboard to non-standard designs found on UMPCs and Internet appliances like Nokia’s web tablet, anyway. And the Eee PC keyboard’s small size shouldn’t faze children, either.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the Eee PC has a bit of a theme going. Most elements of the system are limited but usable, and that extends to the screen. Resolution is the real killer here, particularly because web sites are typically designed with more than 800×480 pixels in mind. So you spend a lot of time scrolling, but surprisingly, not much time squinting. The Eee PC’s screen quality is at least on par with that of my older Dell laptop, making it easy to read in all but outdoor light.

We expected most of the Eee PC’s limitations given its dimensions and specs. One area where we were a little surprised was battery life. With its native Linux OS, the Eee PC’s battery life seemed to fall closer to three hours than Asus’ claimed three and a half. Under Windows, where we were able to measure battery life more precisely, the system was able to idle with Firefox displaying TR’s front page for just under three hours with the screen set at full brightness. When playing back a high quality DivX recording—which it did smoothly and without stuttering, I might add—at full screen brightness and 50% volume, the Eee PC managed two hours and 46 minutes of battery life. Even if that doesn’t quite measure up to expectations, it’s adequate, again.

Despite all its limitations, I found myself using the Eee PC quite a lot over the last few weeks, mostly from the couch in my living room, but also from bed, and inevitably, the john. The Eee PC practically lived on my coffee table, where quick Google access made it an instant argument solver. My laptop usually resides in the living room, but with the two side by side, I found myself reaching for the Eee PC far more often. I even mastered the keyboard over time, or at least became competent enough to bang out notes for articles, including this one, with little frustration. Even with the Eee PC’s smaller screen, I preferred it for surfing from the couch, particularly because of its small footprint and the fact that it barely generates enough heat to gently warm your lap.

Still, the real kicker for me is the ability to run Windows XP. The native Linux OS is perfectly functional and loaded with apps, but it isn’t a familiar environment, which feels like another compromise. In familiar Windows territory, the Eee PC is unencumbered by learning curves, leaving me far more productive with it.

Conclusions

With a low-resolution screen, cramped keyboard, anemic storage capacity, and underclocked processor, the Eee PC would be easy to write off as too limited by its underpowered hardware. Except it isn’t. Stuff all that hardware into a sub-notebook form factor that weighs less than a kilogram, and you have a device that is truly greater than the sum of its parts. Factor in another sum—the 4G’s affordable $400 price tag—and the Eee PC looks even better still.

The price is what really seals the Eee PC’s appeal. Sure, you can get a laptop with a big screen, fast dual-core processor, and gobs of storage capacity for a couple of Benjamins more. But that’s a full-sized notebook whose proportions dwarf the diminutive Eee PC. To get anything even close to the Eee PC’s size, expect to pay several times the cost of the 4G model.

Don’t think of the Eee PC as a laptop replacement, then. I’m not sure I’d even call it a sub-notebook, and it’s certainly much more than an Internet appliance. What this really is, and Microsoft will have to excuse me here, is an ultra-mobile PC—one that’s much more affordable than the tablet-style UMPCs on the market, with a real keyboard to boot.

Of the three Eee PC models currently on the market, the 4G and 4G Surf look like the best options. The latter saves you $50 by dropping the integrated webcam and 45 minutes of battery life, but depending on how you intend to use the Eee PC, that might not be a big deal. I’d stay away from the 2G Surf; with only a 2GB internal solid-state hard drive and RAM that can’t be upgraded, the 2G sacrifices a lot to hit a $300 price point.

Asus Eee PC 4G
December 2007

In the end, I can’t help but think that Asus has created a whole new class of notebooks with the Eee PC: machines inexpensive enough to compete with Internet appliances, but with the flexibility and many of the features we get from laptops, including the ability to run Windows. It’s hard to argue with that sort of value proposition, especially when it appeals to enthusiasts and mainstream users alike, which is why we’re bestowing the Eee PC 4G with our coveted Editor’s Choice award.

Comments closed
    • gerbilspy
    • 12 years ago

    Can you use an external usb keyboard with it?

    • PenGun
    • 12 years ago

    Nice. This will do. A USB GPS reciever. Googleearth Plus and we have a kick ass mapping machine to find my way through the BC wilderness. A 12 volt charger for the dirt bike and we good to goooooo. Cheaper than a top of the line GPS and more capable.

    • Hattig
    • 12 years ago

    Why is the battery only 3 hours with 4400MAh?

    My old iBook runs at 1.33GHz, 1.5GB RAM, wireless on, 12″ screen, mechanical hard drive, etc, and gets over 4 hours from the same capacity battery.

    This thing should be getting 6+ hours. Something is certainly not right at all. The Celeron should use a quarter of the power of the 130nm G4 in the iBook alone.

    I think the next generation EeePC with the 8.9″ screen (1024×600?) and updated chipset (Silverthorne?) will be the one to go for. However the EeePC is certainly great for what it is, as shipped, and the Linux installed is surely more than enough rather than adding £100 for OEM Windows XP on top (that’s 50% of the cost of the device itself – Full Windows XP is £240 – more than the EeePC!).

    Maybe they could make the laptop wider, but shorter and thinner. That way they could make the keyboard bigger, without compromising the overall size/volume of the device.

    • indeego
    • 12 years ago

    I find it amusing that you review the hardware at its $400 level but that you put XP on it, adding another ~$100-$200 to that pricepoint depending on home/oem/pro levels. Did price have nothing to do with your review? Did Linux have nothing to do with your Editor’s choice award? Can one have an Editor’s choice when a price was used well above what most would pay, or configuration was used other than specified?

    I mean, if we can all mod our parts to be different than intended, then they all sit on the same playing field, but realistically that isn’t an option, and I think it’s somewhat unfair to other products you reviewg{<...<}g

      • Hance
      • 12 years ago

      I have had my EEE for about a day now and its would get the editors choice award with linux installed also. It is the best small cheap laptop money can buy. Asus has a verson coming out with xp preinstalled soon and the price difference is suppose to be about fourty bucks not the 200 you quote.

      Just so you know I have XP installed on my EEE. I bought it with the intention of putting xp on it. It isnt that i have anything against linux it is the fact that I have to use some programs that are windows only.

      • Dissonance
      • 12 years ago

      The Eee PC was evaluated as-is. Out of the box, it comes with a perfectly capable operating system that has just about everything the average user would need. And unlike the Internet appliances you might normally find in this price range, you at least have the ability to put Windows (or other operating systems, for that matter) on the Eee. That flexibility–not specifically running the Eee with XP–is an important component of the system’s overall appeal, and a big reason why it earned an Editor’s Choice.

    • UberGerbil
    • 12 years ago

    Hey, how about some actual benchmarks? Obviously you’re not going to be gaming on this thing, but some of TR’s standard CPU and memory benches would be interesting.

    I’d also love to see HDTach and IOMeter results for the SSD.

    • Lazier_Said
    • 12 years ago

    This is getting down to the size to be a nifty car PC. Throw in a 16gb SDHC card to hold more music.

    Is there GPS nav software for Linux?

    • PetMiceRnice
    • 12 years ago

    The price and tiny screen effectively sinks the Eee PC for me.

      • Hance
      • 12 years ago

      It really depends on what you want it for. For what I am doing the Eee is perfect. Now hurry up brown and get here I aint got all day.

    • eitje
    • 12 years ago

    the price grabber link points to the black version of the laptop; that’s not the type that was reviewed, though.

      • firerules16
      • 12 years ago

      Huh????

      Since when did the color make a difference in the actual product review? I find your comment slightly odd.

        • eitje
        • 12 years ago

        you’re right, it IS odd. I do like making odd comments. 🙂

        It’s just that with pricegrabber, the white system comes up as available @ Amazon.com, whereas the black one does not (via the pricegrabber engine).

        Whatever my reasoning, someone could follow those links thinking they were getting the same model as pictured, and not get it. So I thought I’d point it out. 🙂

    • A_Pickle
    • 12 years ago

    So… wait. Why, again, are Macs so expensive? It’s all that world-class built-in software, right?

      • UberGerbil
      • 12 years ago

      Actually, the Mac tax is no longer as high as it once was. Comparing a Macbook to a /[

        • A_Pickle
        • 12 years ago

        I suppose that’s true. I haven’t done much price hunting as of late, but I expect you’d be right. Still, I’d contend that Dell could beat the price of just about any Mac, be it a Latitude, Precision, or Inspiron. Or Vostro.

        That said, I’m not saying that like it’s a bad thing — if a priority of mine was to get a computer with Mac OS X, I’d pay the tax.

          • Synchromesh
          • 12 years ago

          Yeah, Dell could beat them pricewise for one simple reason: that is Dell makes junk. Yes, that’s right. Their machines suck when it come to overall design, reliability and last time I checked service too.

          I’m not a fan of Apple (in fact, I don’t like it at all) but be that as it may, it’s silly to compare a cheap pos like Dell with a quality designed machine like Apple. That’s why I prefer Thinkpads. A used Thinkpad is by far a better proposition imho than a new Dell.

            • Usacomp2k3
            • 12 years ago

            I take it you have never used that latitude line.

            • A_Pickle
            • 12 years ago

            Or… Inspirons, for that matter. I have had fantastic service and support from them.

            • Synchromesh
            • 12 years ago

            You take it wrong. I had a Dell Latitude C640 based on P4M. Even if you compare it to Thinkpad T30 based on same CPU the C640 was a piece of junk. It would constanly overheat, required cleaning, was very bulky and overall design was lacking comparing to the Thinkpad line.

            I also used to have a Dell D620 at work. If you compare it to the T40, it’s a joke. I also have a D8xx at work now. Will take my personal T42p which is older over it any day of the week for any task. No comparison once again.

            • A_Pickle
            • 12 years ago

            To be honest, it seems like you’re arbitrarily taking sides — specifically aligning yourself with the Dell-sucks-because-they’re-common group. I suppose the out-of-box experience of the ThinkPads is better — I could see that being the case, though, as of recently, Dell is taking an unusually proactive stance (for a big OEM, I mean) against bloatware. Even still, Latitudes and Precisions are very crisp, fresh systems — they don’t have much bloat software on them at all. On top of that, Dell is one of the few companies who, today, still offers a real Windows disk.

            I own an Alienware Area-51 m5790 notebook — that overheats a lot of the time. I have it propped up on a Robert Ludlum book right now — because if I don’t, about 10 minutes into my gaming session I will start having major (unplayable) FPS issues. This is probably due to the fact that Compal’s engineers decided it would be effective to cool BOTH my 2.16 GHz Core 2 Duo T7400 AND my Mobility Radeon X1900 out the same, small vent.

            That said, a friend of mine purchased the new Dell XPS M1730 — with two Geforce 8700M GT graphics cards in there, a PhysX PPU, two hard drives, 4 GB of RAM, and Core 2 Duo (I don’t know what speed). He doesn’t have to prop his laptop up at all. In fact, none of the folks that I know have to do any of that — my friend with his Inspiron 9300, my mother with her Inspiron E1705. My father still uses an Inspiron 7000 with a 266 MHz Pentium II and 384 MB of RAM, running Windows XP. My grandmother uses a Dell Latitude Cpi with a 166 MHz Pentium (with no MMX) and 32 MB of RAM, running Windows 98. The absolute best build quality that I’ve ever seen on a laptop computer is the Dell Precision M65 that a friend of mine purchased. On top of that, Dell’s service and support, in my experience, has been spot-on.

            I will never recommend any other company to prospective buyers picking my brain about computers.

            To be completely honest, I’ve fixed TONS of computers for plenty of people, Dells – Compaqs – Latitudes… you name it. Quite frankly, they’re ALL x86 machines, and they can all be formatted — which leaves me to judge them based on build quality, helpfulness and knowledgeability of service agents, usefulness of onsite user self-help documentation, and availability of fairly recent drivers. HP/Compaq fail miserably in this regard. Dell is stellar in this regard.

            • Flying Fox
            • 12 years ago

            q[

            • JoeKiller
            • 12 years ago

            I used to loath Dell PCs before I actually worked with them. Their failure rate would be in the range of any other pc; slim to none and their support for hardware and getting parts to you is great. Sure it sucks to get the noob on the other line that actually tries to help but you can guide them to get what you need. Cheap parts? Perhaps, but they are lasting at our business just fine. Super cheap price wise, good support, and a product that last a long time makes Dell a good choice for us. YMMV

            Damn, you all just got me to post for the first time since I signed up in 2004.

            • A_Pickle
            • 12 years ago

            Again, I’m not seeing any empirical evidence that places ThinkPads invariably ahead of Dells. Really, I’m sure they’re great computers… so are Dells. I’m sure, if you handed me a Latitude and ThinkPad of the same “level,” I would be…

            …just as impressed, by both. Really.

            • thecoldanddarkone
            • 12 years ago

            I’m typing off a t61p right now and it’s deffinitely not as impressive as syncromesh is making them out to be. It is a nice laptop, but it isn’t perfect.

            I will be playing with a d630 in a week or so, I’ve already seen it and played with it a little.

            • Synchromesh
            • 12 years ago

            I never said they were perfect. They were designed by humans and that along with a few other things will inherently make them imperfect.

            What I was talking about was overall design, especially of older machines. I don’t have that much experience with newest machines, especially ones made by Lenovo. Newer T-series seem larger and bulkier than the old ones. Haven’t used them yet but didn’t like what I saw in the design. But the previous gen systems made by Dell, the ones I DO have experience with were cheap junk comparing to several previous gens of IBMs.

            Example: T2x systems. I can take one apart with my eyes closed. Excellent systems. Not perfect, but for the money just excellent – comfortable, reliable workhorses that many people still use. My uncle still uses a Frankenstein T2x I assembled out of 3-4 systems for him and refuses to upgrade. Some parts are 7-8 years old at this point. Craftsmanship on these was beautiful. It’s a pleasure to take one apart because you can see how well it was designed and put together. Compare to Dell C600 or C610. Yes, they worked but not nearly as easy to service or take apart, not as close to being comfortable, heavier, worse looking and feeling design, etc. If you take one apart and lay it next to the Thinkpad you will see what I mean. The craftsmanship and attention to detail is not even close. I’ve taken probably 20+ different laptops from different manufacturers including Sony, Gateway, Averatec, Dell, HP, NEC and more apart and aside from a few other Thinkpads not one of them measures up to the T2x in how well they were built and how well thought out the design was.

            Most of the above fits to T4x series versus Dell D6xx series machines which I did get to use. Had bad motherboard before in less than one year old Dell D610 at work that I got brand new and never even carried the thing out of the building once. Same goes to my Dell D8xx at work that bluescreens once in a while for now reason. This is my second one, btw, the first one bluescreened so often they had to replace it. No such problems with my Thinkpad T42p which I bought used, assembled and disassembled various parts a few times, used at work, carried it around when needed, etc. Works like a charm (knock on wood 3 times).

            And another thing. Resale value on older Dells is just a bit over 1/2 of a comparable Thinkpad of same age. That should tell you something.

            • Flying Fox
            • 12 years ago

            What is not good for you with the T61p? Are you comparing that with the D630 or another notebook model?

            I don’t like the “p” workstation class myself because I think they are too bulky anyways, but I imagine there are people that need the horsepower in that form factor.

            • thecoldanddarkone
            • 12 years ago

            I am not saying it’s not good. It is good, I like the laptop, however it deffinitely has build flaws. I don’t get to see many business line notebooks. I go to a small college and I’ve only seen 3 thinkpads in the last year. I’ve seen a t61 15.4 inch size and that’s about it. I’ve gotten to see a few d630 due to the college buying a few after some laptops got stolen from a van.

            So I decided I would figure what all the hype was about and bought a t61p and I am deffinitely happy with it. It’s fairly well sized and weighs 5.3 lb with 6 cell battery in it (weighed on a scale).

            • Flying Fox
            • 12 years ago

            q[

            • thecoldanddarkone
            • 12 years ago

            Ohh, how I know that.

            A small short story.

            me: I just bought a new laptop, can’t wait till it gets here.
            Other person: Is it a macbook?

            me: No, it’s a t61p
            Other person: Why didn’t you buy a macbook?

            me: I don’t want a macbook
            Other person: You should have bought a macbook

            me: I don’t want a macbook
            Other person: Your computer is going to be unstable

            me: (mumbles to myself)al;sdfna;slgdkjasldfalsfgaskgndlaskdgjasdfgkljasdfk

            I paid about 1350 for the notebook and purchased 4 gigs of ram off the internet making my total purchase about 1450. I am very happy with the notebook.

            • Flying Fox
            • 12 years ago

            Tell them about the whining fans, the discolored palm rest, the keys imprinting on the screen, etc… lol 🙂

            • Flying Fox
            • 12 years ago

            Unfortunately there is not a lot of empirical evidence, since performance wise they are similar, may even tip in Dell’s favour since they seem to use newer hardware.

            However, the ThinkPad keyboard has been widely regarded as the best in the industry. The TrackPoint stick is a love-hate thing interestingly enough. Some people also like ThinkPad’s “classic black” but others loathe it for “old ugly style”.

            When it comes to notebooks it’s more subjective preference more than benchmarks.

            • A_Pickle
            • 12 years ago

            g[

            • Flying Fox
            • 12 years ago

            Whoa… no need to write such a long thing. It will give the perception of fanboism… :O

            Anyway, Dell is definitely not the worst of the lot. Dell has always been about “just enough” in their non-business lines. After all they are out to make money. There are worse out there build quality wise, and their bloatware levels definitely are not so bad.

            But the laws of averages do mean some people will have good experiences with a certain brand and others will have bad experiences on the same brand.

            • A_Pickle
            • 12 years ago

            I knew that someone was going to post that, and likewise, it’d be nice to do some fact-checking first. In my experience, Dell has been fantastic. Got a free battery and notebook hard drive off of them, as well as a new computer with Windows Vista Home Premium pre-installed. That was all free, expedient, and easy.

            • eitje
            • 12 years ago

            you must’ve gotten dizzy in your running wheel, little gerbil.

            it’s okay – just sit this next race out; you’ll be fine once you get your head back together.

        • thecoldanddarkone
        • 12 years ago

        Yes, but thinkpads and lattitudes are better than the macbook, and to be honest hp laptops at our college have done extremely well for the students. HP laptops at least double the amount of macbooks and we have more physical problems (not even counting the cracking in the front where the lid closes) with the macbook (less software problems on the macbooks though), and these are the CONSUMER laptops not the business models. These are owned by the students. The it deparment still recommends that people get three year warranties on any laptop due to the amount of problems that students have with laptops. Then add 3 year warranties to t61 and d630 and macbook, macbooks end up being a little more expensive to alot more expensive.

          • Flying Fox
          • 12 years ago

          That’s because the more appropriate comparison is the Macbook Pro.

    • d0g_p00p
    • 12 years ago

    Awesome review. I have had my EeePC for about 2 months now and the only thing that bothers me (and I am surprised that you have not commented on this) is how top heavy the screen/lid is. Whenever I try to use it on a non flat surface the laptop always falls over. It seems the screen is heaver than the body. So far that is my only gripe. I love this machine, good job Asus.

      • UberGerbil
      • 12 years ago

      A bigger, heavier battery would solve that problem and another as well (it wouldn’t have to be much heavier, either — it just has to stick out a bit at the back to eliminate the tipping problem).

    • Prototyped
    • 12 years ago

    The Eee PC is quite good for what it is — an inexpensive Internet appliance — but $400 is still a significant amount of money, and in terms of specifications you don’t really get much. Also, the case is Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS), which, while quite rigid, will not suffer wear and tear well over the course of, say, three years. It’s a relatively brittle material and I would expect cracks to develop over time.

    If you’re thinking of purchasing an Eee and are attracted more by the /[http://www.dell.com/content/products/category.aspx/notebooks?c=us&cs=28&l=en&s=dfb< ]§ 2. g{http://www-132.ibm.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?categoryId=2576396&storeId=1&catalogId=-840&langId=-1< ]§ 3. g{http://h71016.www7.hp.com/html/hpremarketing/daily.asp?jumpid=re_R295_store/buspurchase-refurbished/computing/price-list/notebooks&psn=notebooks_tablet_pcs/notebook_pcs#notebooks<]§

      • indeego
      • 12 years ago

      One cool thing about refurbished products is that they can be purchased with various warranties that match their “new” counterparts. This means unless you care about how a PC looks, you can really save quite a bitg{<.<}g

        • thecoldanddarkone
        • 12 years ago

        Dell recertified d630’s.

    • StashTheVampede
    • 12 years ago

    A bigger screen + bigger keyboard = winner for me. OS doesn’t matter much these days (we’re all networked anyhow), I simply cannot type on a tiny keyboard.

    • BeowulfSchaeffer
    • 12 years ago

    “Still, the real kicker for me is the ability to run Windows XP. The native Linux OS is perfectly functional and loaded with apps, but it isn’t a familiar environment, which feels like another compromise. In familiar Windows territory, the Eee PC is unencumbered by learning curves, leaving me far more productive with it.” [roll eyes]

    Yes, well it does take a day or so to get used to something. I am sure you spent more time getting used to playing a Wii with “unfamiliar” controllers then you spent getting used to the original interface with the Asus. BTW, how long does it take people to get used to Vista from XP? Every one I know can’t stand the changes.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 12 years ago

      wow, there’s a hefty conclusion to which you jumped, sir!

      • A_Pickle
      • 12 years ago

      Everyone I know loved the changes… I sure did.

        • BeowulfSchaeffer
        • 12 years ago

        I deal with a lot of “less then technically adept” people. They ALL are having problems adapting to Vista, and especially Office.

      • bwoodring
      • 12 years ago

      Getting used to it is just a nice way of saying that most Linux productivity apps are complete garbage. There’s no getting used to the fact that nothing in the *nix world is a nice as office, psp, textpad etc.

        • BeowulfSchaeffer
        • 12 years ago

        Really? Do you think that all of the OSX software is garbage? Mac OS X is a Unix-based operating system.

        As for Linux apps, there is no reason why they cannot be as polished as OSX apps. All it takes is money and/or time.

        Let go your hate! 😉

          • swaaye
          • 12 years ago

          Yah and how much time does Linux need? Infinite? It’s not even remotely close to even Windows 98 for desktop use. 🙂 I laugh at the thought of making anyone in the non-puter-saavy world open up a terminal. It is so far from easy to use and robust for home/office users that it’s mind blowing, really. HowTo pages with 200 Q&As for each release are a little hint there.

          Of course, its inability to evolve is down to Linux’s inability to really get commercial hardware and software support, which in itself stems from the platform’s inability to be profitable for hardware and software makers.

          And having a zillion distros trying to pull the Linux “philosophy” in their own direction, most of which are incompatible with each other in various ways, isn’t helping things either.

            • BeowulfSchaeffer
            • 12 years ago

            Humm.. my 6 year old seems to work with Linux pretty well. Perhaps people are not as dumb as you think they are. Really, where do you get the vitrol from?

    • MBIlover
    • 12 years ago

    Two things that I’d like to see before I buy:

    1) Longer battery life, especially considering there’s no 3rd party brand that makes one for the eee.

    2) A bit more screen realestate. Obviously higher resolution, but in physical inches too.

    Lucky me, these two points seem to be on the upgrade checklist for Asus this year.

    • Mithent
    • 12 years ago

    “Measuring just 225mm wide, 165mm deep, and up to 35mm thick (8.9″ x 6.5″ x 1.4″ if you prefer multiples of the king’s forearm)”

    Nice :p I never realised quite how small the Eee PC was before seeing it next to a CD case, actually.

      • UberGerbil
      • 12 years ago

      Yeah, that picture was really dramatic and useful. Far more so than random currency. 😉

        • A_Pickle
        • 12 years ago

        Agreed. Though, I see Canada is trespassing on my “American hegemonic mindset.” 😀

          • UberGerbil
          • 12 years ago

          Dissonance is just using whatever coin is most valuable for a given size.

            • A_Pickle
            • 12 years ago

            And how! 😀

    • stmok
    • 12 years ago

    Thanks for the review, but I think I’ll wait for the 2nd generation model.

    *[http://www.dailytech.com/ASUS+Prepares+Next+Generation+Eee+PC+with+WiMAX+Larger+Display/article10185.htm<]§

      • indeego
      • 12 years ago

      ditto. This looks like it has promise, but the compromises are too muchg{<.<}g

    • Hance
    • 12 years ago

    My Eee is on the way from newegg as I type this. Thanks to brown and their speedy shipping 3 day from the egg is going to take a week.

    Nelliesboo asus is going to announce the next model of the Eee at CES. Rumor has it that its going to be a 8.9 inch screen

    Asus has an upgrade battery coming out. It is bigger and sticks out the back of the notebook a bit but should almost double battery life.

    Hurry up brown dam it I want to play with my new toy.

      • Nelliesboo
      • 12 years ago

      Yes but it is not the 1001…

        • derFunkenstein
        • 12 years ago

        By the looks of it, I’d say that the 1001 got the axe and we’re getting this 9″-ish screen in its place. Let that CPU run the full 900MHz and give it more battery power, and it’s darn near perfect with a 4-8GB drive.

    • Nelliesboo
    • 12 years ago

    I wish Asus would put out the 1001 (the 10 inch model) but they have the U1 & U2.

    • UberGerbil
    • 12 years ago

    Here’s a cheer for non-American currency! 😉

    • Forge
    • 12 years ago

    The memory limit in the stock Linux install is a few minute fix for any half-decent linux power user, but it’s understandable, since none of the shipping configs will hit the ~936MB memory limit.

    I’d want a realtively obscure and hard to reach switch that puts it back up to rated FSB and CPU clocks. Battery life is fine and all, but if I’m spending more than ~2 hours on it, a wall socket is most likely available.

    At those seriously sub-1GHz clocks, every MHz counts.

    Still, looks very entertaining overall. Doesn’t do any one thing superbly, but it does do most everything passably well.

      • UberGerbil
      • 12 years ago

      The times I can envisage really wanting this thing — transcontinental and transoceanic flights — I’d want /[

      • cheesyking
      • 12 years ago

      I understand that the latest bios sets the fsb to its correct 100MHz value and that pushing the cpu up another 30% doesn’t make any real impact on the battery since a ULV Celeron is already extremely frugal on power!

    • Nitrodist
    • 12 years ago

    “One area where were a little surprised was battery life.”

    One area where we were…

    • indeego
    • 12 years ago

    The one thing that turns me off about this thing is the pathetic battery life. Somehow I think it should be getting near twice that amount of time before I’d consider it. The Small 3.6 pound HP’s we have get about 5 hours, have built in optical, cost under a grand, have a better sized KB/screen (also important) and performance is decentg{<...<}g

      • Prototyped
      • 12 years ago

      Hell, I own an old HP business notebook nc6000 that I picked up in June 2007 for the equivalent of about USD 420. It had a new 8-cell 4,400 mAh battery in it, and SpeedStepped down to 600 MHz while idle, but with the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth active, and a 4,200 rpm hard disk spinning, it gets me 5 to 5 1/2 hours’ worth of battery life. (Note that this 4,400 mAh is the same capacity as the battery in the smaller 2GB and 4GB Surf models.) Mine has a 1.6 GHz Pentium M “Banias” on the larger (and more power-hungry) 130 nm process.

      There is no reason a ULV Dothan Celeron M underclocked to 630 MHz, lacking Bluetooth and running off an SSD without a spinning motor should guzzle this much power.

        • UberGerbil
        • 12 years ago

        Yeah, the battery life is a puzzle. The review didn’t note if their battery life tests were run with WiFi on or off; that can make a significant difference (especially if the drivers aren’t especially smart) The only remaining factor nobody has talked about is the backlight; perhaps it’s cheap but not especially efficient. The review noted the backlight was at maximum brightness in all the tests. I wonder if that was necessary (how low can you turn the EeePC backlight in ordinary indoor conditions before it becomes unusable?) and what the battery life would be like if the tests were run at a lower setting. I know I’ve never run a laptop at maximum brightness execpt a couple of times when I was outdoors; and often when playing a movie (on a night flight on a plane or sitting in the den at home) you can turn it down quite a ways.

    • Convert
    • 12 years ago

    Great article, nice to see some of the native applications the students will have access to.

    I have to wonder though; you can get laptops awfully cheap, so cheap that they encroach on the Eee pc’s territory. I would be more willing to purchase one of those, simply from a screen, keyboard and speed point of view. Though having something so small is nice, I personally don’t see it outweighing longevity when you get down to it.

    • vdreadz
    • 12 years ago

    The white layout looks sweet!

      • tfp
      • 12 years ago

      What’s wrong with a black layout?

        • vdreadz
        • 12 years ago

        Nothing really but the white looks good like an Apple’s iPOD 😉

          • Perezoso
          • 12 years ago

          Ok, you’re gay. We understand. 😀

            • 5150
            • 12 years ago

            NTTIAWWT

            • A_Pickle
            • 12 years ago

            Okay, these acronyms are getting to be a little bit ridiculous.

            • Plinth
            • 12 years ago

            That’s not even in Urban Dictionary O.o

            • derFunkenstein
            • 12 years ago

            It’s one he’s posted repeatedly. It’s not Urban Dictionary; it’s Seinfeld.

            • Flying Fox
            • 12 years ago

            You could submit it yourself. 🙂

          • UberGerbil
          • 12 years ago

          In other words, it looks so 5 years ago.

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